It's mad how time disappears but it's now twenty years ago since Biffa, the former base-player with the Pale Fountains, died and after reading about it on Facebook I thought I'd post this piece of writing that The Pale Fountains'/Shack's Mick head put together for my book last year. Typical of Mick it came in hand written and it took me a while to work out the story exactly so some of it reads in a rambling fashion which I tried to leave as was written. Hope you enjoy it and, by the way, I'm posting all of it so you don't have to go get the book to read the rest.
The photo is of Mick and was taken in Paris at La Locomotive before a gig.
"I first recognised Biffer the co-founder of The Paleys at the back of the Central Boys Club in Kensington. At the time in the mid 70’s Kenny was split into two halves. You had the streets on the right hand side that had been there for hundred and fifty years and the estate on the left which had just been built. The rivalry was always going to be fierce. And it was. He was playing for the streets and I was playing for the estate. It was a game of 5-a-side and I remember thinkin’ who’s that stylish little tyke who looks great even in his scruff? It wasn’t for another four or five years when our paths crossed again. I’d heard he played bass guitar and was rehearsing in his mum and dad’s cellar with his mate Nick on keyboards. I’d never spoken to him apart from the occasional nod outside the chippie recognising each other’s haircuts and kex. I was planning on forming a band having just left Yorkie’s band Egypt For Now who were splitting up up to go our separate ways and I thought why not see of he’s interested in getting together. So one night after work I took my copy of Forever Changes over to his having found out his address from a mate and didn’t really know how it would play out, but thought it was worth it. He wasn’t in but his Dad Gordon was. Anyway, I passed Gordon the album and said can you pass this to Biff, I mean Chris, and gave him my address and name to pass back when he’d finished with it/ A few days later he brought it back and that night we formed the Love Fountains, later to become the Pale Fountains. About a week later we knocked around for Jock who lived in the next street. Biffer knew him from school and said he was a boss drummer so we roped him in. Jack was more proficient of us all but the balance of our post punk naivety and his steady Clem Burke we thought was a winner. One of our first gigs together after a Liverpool debut was in the Barracuda Club in London. It was our first venture outside the city and when we got there to see the place heaving we thought we’d arrived. Later on when it came to doing the sound checks the champagne set minced into the bar in the next room and then we were informed that the gig had been double booked with a porn station called Elektric Blue. When me and Jock realised that the girl sandwiched between us on the sofa was Erika Roe the stripper it all started making sense. We weren’t that arsed though ‘cos Howard Devoto was there. He’d probably come to see Disclocation but so what? We were playing with a band from Manchester called Dislocation Dance. They had a great sound and songs but the main attraction was the trumpet player who when we asked around found out his name was Andy Diagram. I remember lookin’ at Biffer sayin’ ‘he’s gonna be a Paley’. After their sound check we went into their changies and chatted to them. When we got an opportunity we zoomed in on Andy and enquired if he’d be up for playing some trumpet on some demos. He said yes and that was that. A few weeks later he joined the Paleys and played on the first album on Virgin Records. After the first album we both realized that we’d gone as far as we could together and decided to go our separate ways. By this time John my brother, who had learnt to play guitar the same time as me, had come of age if you like. Well he was still only 17 but was playing material like a veteran. It wasn’t the obvious thing to do to get a 17 year old guitarist to play the lead lines and counter melodies that Andy did but it made a lot of sense and we got down to it. The first album was quite orchestral and was quite difficult to replicate on stage. So the 2nd album we decided to make it more of a live situation so we could knock it off at the drop of a hat. John was perfect. If I had an idea we’d have our own code of Lions, Tigers and Bears which basically meant The Velvets, The Stones and The Doors. So in the early stages of his baptism half way through a song would be “Lions” and I’ve got to say I’ve never heard a guitarist as sorted and understanding than J, the best guitarist in the world. As far as I’m concerned. So there you have it. I’m gonna shut up because there’s been beautiful people who’ve come and gone and I could waffle on all year but the main thing as far as I’m concerned is The Paleys!"
My Summer Pops gigs have been a bit hit and miss and I haven't done as many as originally planned part due to me working on other commissions and part due to changes in the plans of pr folk and managers, ie. no access or no access to agencies as mine were mostly being shot for an agency. All was good last night though for The Lightning Seeds and the first few songs that I heard sounded great. The venue was The Phil instead of the usual Echo Arena.
On Saturday I swapped Summer Pops for Summer Classics as The Phil played in Southport's Victoria Park which was handy as otherwise I would have been down at the ACC for Simply Red and apparently the photo rules were that photographers had to be on the stage at the side! Onstage with Simply Red? I know what stage I wanted to be on! This is The Phil's second to last gig of the summer with the final show being on Friday night down at the Pier Head for the 2nd Rightful Owners Of The Song gig which sees the city's finest pub singers onstage doing their usual songs but this time backed by a full orchestra! Last year's show at the Phil itself was a great night and this event on Friday is a freebie so keep your fingers crossed for the weather and get down there. The show kicks off at 8.
This is a very old photograph of a Liverpool singer called Jack Roberts and it was probably taken around 1990 on my old Mamiya C330 TLR. This is the latest image to go online at my archive page on Facebook which you can sign up for on the widget thing somewhere down there on the right hand side of this page!
I have just started to upload more images to my stock library with a lot more to follow. The latest images to be uploaded to my online galleries are the ones that first appear and the database is fully searchable via the search box on the left. You can also change the status of how you look at the work by clicking on browse! Photographs can be purchased as either prints or for one off commercial license and all prices are online and images can be purchased instantly. Commercial images can be bought and downloaded instantly and prints are usual posted out within 3 working days. This, however, may be effected if I am away on holiday/business for a week or so though this doesn't seem to happen too much. Though if prints are needed urgently I would recommend checking via email or a phone call first.
I've recently been posting some of my archive to Facebook and with loads of people looking at it I thought it might be easier to post them to a Group/Fan page. Sounds a bit stupid having a fan page but let's just say you can become fans of the archive and not me personally! This photo is from Voodoo in Liverpool and is one of the first albums online with stacks more to follow. If you'd like to join in then please do by clicking here!
The Liverpool Phil have just launched their brand new website, and very nice it is too, and I noticed this image being used of Vasily which was taken earlier on in the year down at the orchestra's new rehearsal space. More work with the orchestra coming soon, as this Saturday sees their Summer Pops in Southport, but first off is more Liverpool Summer Pops stuff with Simple Minds (Nooooo!) and Pussycat Dolls which I suppose is the silver lining behind the cloud!
I saw Squeeze, for the first and last time, on the band's final tour before they split up the first time around so it was good to very briefly get to see them again especially as the first 3 songs were Take Me I'm Yours, Black Coffee In Bed and Up The Junction. Result! Oh and they also came on riding bikes!
As mentioned before like more than once or twice I've been hanging out with a band called the Nashville Liverpool Underground Medicine Show and tonight is their last Liverpool gig before the Stateside two thirds of the band go back home to Tennessee. The event is on at Static from 8pm, costs a mere fiver on the door, and has superb support bands in the shape of Tramp Attack and The Loose Moose String Band!
Last night's Summer Pop's at the Echo Arena was a double hit of 80's nostalgia and in a Guilty Pleasures sort of way I well enjoyed it. As with all the arena gigs you get to do the first three songs of the main band and the same for the support only with the support you get to wait at the side of the stage and watch the rest of their gig which suited us fine last night as the support (or joint headliners I should say) were The Pretenders. It's a brave move when 30 odd year old bands start a set up with a new song but they got away with it and it was as good as anything they did later on but then after that it was mostly hit after hit. At one point Chrissie Hynde, who by the way still looks amazing, dedicated a song to Ray Davies which I hoped was going to be Stop Your Sobbing but it wasn't and they played I Go To Sleep but later played that other great lost Kinks classic so I was happy enough. Coming up will be photos of Squeeze who came onstage riding bikes after being introduced by Peter Kaye!
Oh and next up at the arena for me is Simple Minds and if even the slightest of guilty pleasure moments appear in my blog about that band then feel free to shoot me!
These are from a few weeks ago when I got to sit in with The Phil whilst Vasily rehearsed his White Nights pieces on the afternoon of the show itself. Now I ain't no knowledge on classical music but two of the pieces they played are amongst my all time favourites so needless to say it was a very pleasant afternoon hearing the best band in the city playing your favourite music whilst you go about your job photographing them.
I'd also wanted to try out one of those Lens Baby things that you stick in front of the lens and then 'bend' the lens into focus and I borrowed one that day from Helen Palmer so I had to try it out straight away. It's a bit difficult when the camera is being hand held and the subject is moving (and this lot can move fast at times) but I like the effect and will be trying it out again.
More from The Phil coming up over the next few weeks as they play their final shows of the season before taking that well earned August break!
I watched a documentary the other night about Shane MacGowan called If I Should Fall From Grace With God where the Pogues singer spent most of the film drinking and slurring his words so, having been a 5 year old film, I expected the worst but against all odds he's still up there and singing some of the greatest songs ever written and actually singing them really really well!. Before the gig he was wandering around by the side of the stage not looking too clever and then he wanders onstage with an eyepatch on clutching a bottle of white wine, complains about the smoking ban telling the audience they can burn down the venue at the end of the gig and launches into an amazing version of Streams Of Whiskey. One minute it's all ramshackle lateness and how in God's name can he do anything but then put him behind the mic and let the band start up and The Pogues and Shane MacGowan sound as great as ever. Sadly it was all over after 3 songs for me but I've seen a fair few Twitters about other people's highlights which include the genius Rainy Night In Soho, Thousands Are Sailing and The Boys From County Hell. And if you want to read some more about The Pogues then the band's James Fearnley's tour diaries from 2005/6 are a great place to start,
Been on a late edit after photographing The Pogues gig at the Echo Arena. Only saw the first three songs and they were Streams Of Whiskey, If I Should Fall From Grace With God and Broad Majestic Shannon which is a brilliant start. The band sounded great and Shane sounded like he always does. Business as usual and all is good. More photos to follow later!
I've just been trying to dig out an old photo that someone's requested and I came across these photos of glamour girl and TV personality Danielle Lloyd. We seemed to do loads of photos with Danielle Lloyd at the time, in far flung exotic locations such as New Brighton and Rhyl, but this was my favourite and was this was shot in an office block in Birkenhead for Facto Magazine.
Another confusing day in the hands of music PR people yesterday as the Pet Shop Boys 'people' make a last minute decision to put us at the back of the arena instead of in the pit which is the traditional place to take photographs of people on a stage. The 'place' was to be behind the mixing desk and it's bank of computer monitors, and between the mixing desk and stage was around 800 people who were standing up! Add to that the fact that I'm not the tallest photographer in the world and you can see the problems! As it happens, we got to move a bit further back and higher up so there were no heads in the way but at the same time, you've got four photographers taking photos from virtually identical positions showing the Pet Shop Boys in the same identical way that other photographers around the country/world will no doubt be doing. Not sure this works for PR in general though. The identical images getting rolled out all over the place may seem like a unified and well branded message but the lack of any changes means that picture editors will soon get bored and the band's tour coverage might slow down after a while. Not much I can do and if that's what they demand then that's what they get but I just know that's it's boring and has no room for making something new which is a large part of the enjoyment and challenge in shooting live music. No chance of this problem tonight though as Leonard Cohen's 'people' are currently keeping all photographers away even though his new campaign for the current tour features a photograph of the man himself onstage! I'll never work it out! Meanwhile, here's some photos that you may have seen before and will probably see again!
Back to the Summer Pops at the arena last night for Sharleen Spiteri. Never seen her before and didn't pay much attention to her band Texas at the time but judging by just the first three songs, she sounded great and it was going to be the old stuff and the new 60's sounding solo debut mixed together. To be honest I never checked out this solo release from last year but thanks to Spotify I'm spending a very nice morning listening to what appears to be a great Dusty Springfield/Northern Soul influenced release.
Tonight it's the Pet Shop Boys but there's a good chance that we'll be shooting from the back of the arena after seeing recent photos of the band with heads in the way between photographers and the band so if any Pet Shop fans are reading this can you please stay seated for the first three please?
As mentioned before, I'm spending some time at the moment hanging out/working with the Nashville Liverpool Underground Medicine Show and last night I was filming them when they played for a few friends in a barn in Crosby. Only got to take a few photos as I was filming most of the night but singing here is Danny Dean who got up with them for a bit at the end of the gig and the other photo is taken when we had a wander around the woods and that photo features Mike Badger, Emily Grace, Matt Gardner and on the right is The Marshall who's playing stand up bass on the tour along with other members of his band the Loose Moose String Band. The Nashville lot have now headed off to London but will be back for two local gigs later on in the week. On Thursday they're back at Little Green on Aigburth Vale after a great show there on Thursday and then on Friday night there's their final gig of the tour at Static which also features sets by Tramp Attack and The Loose Moose Stringband. And if you've still not checked them out then click here.
I photographed this lot a few weeks ago when they were supporting a band in the small room of the O2. I couldn't remember their name at the time but I can now and they're called Sly Digs. On both nights their fans completely put me off anything that the band might have had going for them. At the smaller gig there was only half a dozen of them jumping up and down and shouting in an empty room but on Sunday there was over a hundred (fair play for the getting the numbers to travel from Warrington though on a Sunday night) of them doing the same as well as knocking people over and chucking beer at people which I've never understood especially at venue prices! Anyway, I'm not in the habit of slagging off bands which I'm not 'cos I'm just slagging off their fans! Sly digs over, check them out for yourself here.
Last night saw the launch of Go Penguin which is the new winter version follow on from last year's Go Superlambanana and this time we're going to have a trail of penguins across the city with a tie in book about Patrick (the penguin of course) to be written by Phil Redmond! More info here.